First the Feast – Then the Famine.
Bother ! No wind. Nearly every day this month we’ve had windy weather. Maybe a little wet but usually there is a wind blowing.
The reason I’m unhappy is because today is Clean Monday. The significance for myself and Jacky is that today the Greeks fly their kites. All colours, types and sizes of kites and Greeks of every age. It’s a special day – no work and all the stores are closed except for a few minimarkets which can be a blessing.
It’s 40 days before Easter, or the 7th Monday before Pascha ( Easter ) the Greek Easter that is, which sometimes coincides with the UK Easter but not this year. Clean Monday is the start of the no meat for 40 days before the lambs are killed and barbequed on Easter Sunday.
Today follows much pigging out on meat during Sunday’s carnival. All the large villages, towns and cities will feature a carnival with floats representing all the major businesses, utilities and services. Everybody dresses up in carnival attire, clowns, dancers, several gorillas and witches as the village gives itself over to the excitement of the carnival.
Greeks take this very seriously and it is still a religious festival recognised by the Orthodox Church.
In Kalyves, our local carny, the carnival is often viewed through the tavernas
windows from the inside as the last day of meat eating needs some careful consideration. This year, though, our gang decided to watch the carnival properly and leave the taverna food for another day. I missed out this year, so thanks for the images go to Jacky.
Well, back to today. Clean Monday, or Kathari Deftera is the beginning of Lent for Orthodox Christians and it is the time when houses are cleaned and people clean themselves. To Greeks, this day is the same as our Ash Wednesday which marks the start of our Lent and today is sometimes called Ash Monday.
Not sure the significance of kite flying on Clean Monday, perhaps somebody can tell me. We went for a drive to Chania to see if the city fared better with the wind but we saw fathers trying to start their sons’ kites on football pitches and basketball courts but we didn’t see any in the air.
Until, driving passed Kalami, somebody was using their head and using the rising thermals from the beach to the highway and mountains beyond. Probably not much string but the kite was flying nicely in the current of air.
I hope all the fathers we saw were able to convince their sons that the calm of the day was not their fault and that they would help them fly their kites next time there was a good breeze.
You have possibly noticed that most of our villas for rent on Crete are from late spring to late autumn. If you want to rent a villa on Crete this early in the year give Aine Cretan Villa Holidays a ring. Anne may probably sort something out.
BTW I found an explanation for the kite flying:
By sending a kite up, man tries to communicate with God. And the higher the kite goes, the closer the person comes to God. The kite carries the human spirit and brings it closer to the Creator, and Christians believe that their soul should be next to God’s.
The custom of flying a kite goes back to ancient China, to at least 1,000 BC. The Chinese kites had the shape of an eagle, the bird that flies highest in the sky. These ancient Chinese were also trying to communicate with God and wrote their wishes on the kite.
The higher the kite reached, the more likely it would be that God would answer their prayers.
The first kite in Greece appeared in ancient times, around 400 BC. At that time, mathematician and engineer Archytas (440-360 BC), from Taranto, southern Italy, is said to have invented the first kite in Greece for his aerodynamics studies. Archytas was a good friend of Plato and a follower of the teachings of Pythagoras. Source: GreekReporter.com.
I would think that following all the feasting, washing, acts of forgiveness, you have to give up meat for 40 days, you may as well go and fly your kite !